- Week 5 promises a slate of competitive contests. How will those real-life battles impact your fantasy team?
If you’ve studied the schedule this week, you’ve likely noticed an oddity. There aren’t very many high over/unders, or games that are expected to be comfortable victories. The Patriots and Buccaneers played to that theme on Thursday night, and we should see plenty of tight games on Sunday.
With that in mind, we asked our SI.com fantasy experts the following question:
This is an intriguing week, with just two spreads larger than five points, and 10 of the 13 remaining games within a field goal spread. Which game most interests you, from a fantasy perspective?
John Paulsen: When I saw this week’s question, I immediately had to call dibs on Packers/Cowboys. Not only does the game feature this week’s second highest total (52.5), but it’s a clash between two of the best teams in the NFC. Both teams have potent offenses and, um, not-so-great defenses, so there should be plenty of points in this one. On the Green Bay side, both Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams are nursing injuries, so will Aaron Jones and Geronimo Allison be forced into action and play a role in the inevitable Packer win? (Full disclosure, I’m a Packer fan.) Will Randall Cobb continue his strong start to the season? Will Martellus Bennett finally find the end zone, against his old team, no less? On the Dallas side of the ball, will Ezekiel Elliott improve on his year-to-date 3.6 yards per carry? How badly will the Cowboys exploit Green Bay’s shaky secondary? Did Dez catch it? (Hint: He didn’t.) Save for that last one, all of these questions will be answered at JerryWorld on Sunday, and I, for one, can’t wait.
Michael Beller: I am genuinely excited to watch the Seahawks and Rams on Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I was excited for this divisional matchup, but Sean McVay has changed the entire equation. The Rams enter this week averaging 35.5 points game, tops in the NFL. Jared Goff is taking a major step forward in his second season. Todd Gurley is back on the superstar trajectory he set for himself as a rookie, thanks largely to McVay getting him involved in the passing game. That, too, has opened up the Rams offense, making them more multiple than they have been in a long time. The Seahawks defense, meanwhile, still has all the name-brand players, but is more vulnerable than it has been in years. The Rams won’t be overmatched in this one.
On the other side, Seattle’s offense is finally clicking. Russell Wilson has looked like himself the last two weeks, and he did it mostly without Doug Baldwin in Week 4. Baldwin is off the injury report this week, so the groin injury that slowed him down a week ago is in the rear-view mirror. The Rams have had one of the softest run defenses in the league this season, which adds to an already intriguing storyline regarding Seattle’s backfield. With Chris Carson done for the season, who takes over the primary role? Can Eddie Lacy find redemption? Will Thomas Rawls go from healthy scratch to fantasy hero. There are so many storylines in this game, and we haven’t even discussed the whole balance-of-power-in-the-NFC-West thing. I cannot wait to watch what I fully expect to be a shootout on Sunday that surpasses the over/under of 47.5.
Jennifer Eakins: It's been quite a while, if ever, a game between the Texans and Chiefs has had so much buzz surrounding it from both real-life and fantasy perspectives. On one side, there’s Kansas City, the league’s only undefeated team, with a group of players that are laying down massive fantasy points on a weekly basis. Under center, Alex Smith has thrown for 1,067 yards and eight touchdowns through the first four weeks of the season, and is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback in standard-scoring leagues. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt is making the most of his opportunity, rushing for 502 yards, with an impressive average of 7.4 yards per carry. Even Chiefs’ pass-catchers, who in recent years were nowhere near the top of the leaderboard, are producing, with Tyreek Hill sitting eighth in fantasy points among wideouts, and Travis Kelce third among tight ends. Can Kansas City’s offense sustain this against the Texans, a defense with the fourth most fantasy points in the NFL?
Houston is having a nice coming out party of its own this season, on the shoulders of Deshaun Watson, a rookie quarterback who has certainly outperformed all expectations. His 811 passing yards and seven touchdowns translates to the seventh-most fantasy points at the quarterback position, and remember that he didn’t play the first half of game one of the season. His favorite target, DeAndre Hopkins, is third in fantasy points at receiver, and leads the league with 49 targets. Lamar Miller woke up last week, and D’Onta Foreman is not-so-quietly breathing down his neck.
This contest has an over/under of 45 points with almost dead even implied totals of 23 for the Chiefs and 22 for the Texans. That, too, should keep this game exciting from start to finish.
T.J. Hernandez: I'm looking at to the game in Philadelphia between the Eagles and Cardinals, which I think could be the sneaky high-scoring game of the week. Carson Palmer is averaging slightly more than 320 passing yards per game and he'll be facing an Eagles defense that has allowed the second-most yards through the air this season. Arizona will finally have a fully healthy receiving corps, which Bruce Arians will use to relentlessly attack Philly's struggling secondary. The Cardinals defense hasn't been much better against the pass—when adjusted for strength of schedule, Arizona ranks 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, allowing nearly a third of red-zone passes to be converted into touchdowns. Carson Wentz has already topped 300 yards twice this season, and the Eagles figure to roll out a pass-heavy game plan against a defense that ranks in the top third of the league against running backs. I expect this game to be closer than the 6.5-point spread suggests, with both teams airing it out until the end.
Chris Raybon: San Francisco at Indianapolis may go under the radar because it's a matchup of two teams with one combined win, but there could be a lot of fantasy production in this one, particularly on San Francisco's side. The Colts are 26th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to offenses as a whole, and Kyle Shanahan's offense could experience success similar to their 39-point showing against the Rams in Week 3. Brian Hoyer targeted Aldrick Robinson 12 times last week, and barely missed him on a number of big plays down the field. Pierre Garcon should get back involved now that he's not in Patrick Peterson's coverage. You also have Carlos Hyde going against a defense that has allowed multiple rushing touchdowns in three of its four games. Even kicker Robbie Gould and the 49ers defense are in play—Indianapolis is ranked 29th and 32nd in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to kickers and defenses, respectively.
On the Indianapolis side, Jacoby Brissett has 69 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in his three starts, and could benefit if his team's defense struggles and this turns into a shootout. With Jack Doyle (concussion) out, targets should be funneled to T.Y. Hilton, who has always been more productive at home, and Donte Moncrief, who showed signs of life with a touchdown last week. San Francisco is ranked 18th and 26 in wide receiver aFPA in standard and PPR leagues, respectively. And, last but not least, don't forget it's a Frank Gore revenge game.